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First International Conference on Women in Science, Innovation and Development held at MU

Dr. Kindeya Gebrehiwot, the President of MU, made an opening speech at the beginning of the conference applauding the organizers and invited participants of the international conference and accentuating his and the university’s commitment towards ensuring gender balance. He also expressed his hope that such conference would ‘bring strong women in sustainable network which can help encourage the next generation of women to pursue careers in science, advance technology and create innovative ideas.’
In what is the first of its kind in the history of Ethiopian Higher Education institutions, Mekele University held International Conference on Women in Science, Innovation and Development which brought together women scholars and leaders from various sectors and different corners of the world for three days from 10 to 12 April, 2017 at Mitiku Haile Hall, Main Campus, MU.

Prof. Fetien Abay, the head organizer of the conference and MU’s Vice President for Research and Community Services, warmly welcomed the participants underlining the significance of such conferences towards scientifically mainstreaming gender in science, innovation and development while also expressing her gratitude to all who took part in making the conference come true.

An exhibition, as part of the conference, was then opened by H.E. Demitu Hambisa and Dr. Kindeya Gebrehiwot.

The first plenary session that focused on Women in Science and Innovation then followed where Dr. Judith Francis (Senior Program Coordinator, Sciences and Technology policy and executive secretary of the European Platform on Agricultural Development, CTA, Netherlands), Dr. Ann Waters Bayer (Rural Development: Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Netherlands/ Germany), Dr. Wanjiru KamauRutenberg (Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development/AWARD), Dr. Aster Gebrekirstos (ICRAF), and Prof. Fetien Abay (Vice President for Research and Community Services: Mekele University) made presentations on topics like African women in science and innovation and Agenda 2063: the Africa we want, Women in trans-disciplinary research: interacting with citizen’s science and innovation, Agriculture-driven prosperity for Africa: unlocking African potential through gender-responsive agriculture, Knowledge gap on climate change and its impacts in Africa: need for collective action, and Unlocking the potential of Biodiversity for health and Nutrition (seed food health): an evidence from gender inclusive research, respectively.

The second plenary session that was on Open Science, Education, ICT 4 Life followed after lunch where Margareth Gfrerer (Education Scientist at Education Strategy Centre (ESC), Addis Ababa), Dr. Anastasia Anagnostou (Research fellow, Brunel University), Mrs. Chipo Msengezi (Information, Training and Outreach in Africa, ITOCA, Centurion, South Africa) presented on issues like Importance of women researchers for Africa, Open Science: Technologies, Education and Applications, An analysis of capacity development interventions on access and use of the research4Life programs: The Gender balance and distribution, respectively.

The second day of the plenary session that discussed on challenges & strategies of women in science and research brought together panellists like Prof. Yalemtsehay Mekonnen (Addis Ababa University), Kebe Nigussie (UN Women), Dr. Ambassador Genet Zewdie (General Director, Women Strategic Development Centre, WSDC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and Prof. Meaza Demisse (Deputy Director at Addis Continental Institute of Public Health (ACIPH) where themes like Enabling professional women on the way to success: A reflection, Institutional and Political challenges of addressing the needs of women, The challenges of women in academic leadership, and Women in public health science: challenges and strategies, were presented and discussed.

A documentary production of Ethiopian women leading innovation, business, humanitarian and community services presenting Mrs. Nahusenay, Mrs. Ambanesh, Mrs Roman Gebreselasse, Miss. Hermela Womndimu, W/ro Etenesh Wondimagegnhu, W/ro Frealem Shibabaw, Prof. Fetien Abay , and Amb. Genet Zewdie, was also displayed.

On the third day of the conference, parallel sessions involving women scholars from other universities in the country and neighboring Sudan were conducted.
The participants of the conference also paid a visit to Mekelle Rehabilitation Center as part of MU Based initiatives, and concluded the conference by making a field visit to Abraha-We Atsbaha Village as a case for transdisciplinary intervention and village level knowledge management, and to Atsbi visiting Community Based Business (Shewit seed producer cooperatives)

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